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What To Do in Milwaukee On A Budget

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Friday, May 13, 2016

By Jennifer Posh
Content & Copywriting Specialist
VISIT Milwaukee
Couple at Hubbard Park Beer Garden
 
The NY Times Frugal Traveler gave two thumbs up to Milwaukee, calling the city “vibrant and cheap,” which, hey – we’ll take it. There are certainly plenty of ways to enjoy the finer things in life in Milwaukee, but it’s also a city where great things come at a great price. These inexpensive or free things to do in Milwaukee are perfect if you’re looking for an easy weekend getaway on a budget or want to save up for a special night out while you're in town (James Beard nominated restaurants, anyone?).
 
Beer gardens
This German tradition is back in a big way in Milwaukee! Beer gardens are springing up at parks all around the city, and they’re the perfect place to hang out when you’re on a budget. Treat yourself to a stein, then take in the atmosphere, the good company and oftentimes live music! Many beer gardens allow visitors to bring their own picnics for extra savings, though there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to resist that giant pretzel once you see it. (Most beer gardens serving in traditional glass steins will charge a glassware deposit, but you’ll get it back before you go!)
 
Lakefront
No, not the brewery…the actual shoreline of Lake Michigan is a great spot to spend your time if you’re short on cash. The stunning views of the lake and the city’s architecture are all free. If you can time your visit right, watch the “wings” of the Milwaukee Art Museum open at 10 a.m., flap at noon or close at 5 p.m. (8 p.m. on Fridays). The trails along the lakefront are great for jogging, biking or just strolling, and if you have a little extra money to spend, you can rent paddleboats, bikes and more.
 
Brewery tours
The MillerCoors brewery tour takes you from the caves where Frederick Miller originally cooled his brews up to today’s high speed production lines and is FREE (that’s right, $0). But your dollar stretches far on any tour in town – $10 will get you a tour and plenty of delicious craft brews at Lakefront Brewery or Milwaukee Brewing Company, and for just $6 you can tour Sprecher Brewery and sample both beers and their popular gourmet sodas.
 
Summer concerts
This one is also totally free! Almost every night of the week, you’ll find free outdoor concerts in parks across the city. Local favorites include Chill on the Hill (Tuesday), River Rhythms (Wednesday) and Jazz in the Park (Thursday). These events vary on their carry-in policies, but enjoying nice weather and free music is always a good time!
 
Free events
From gallery nights and street festivals to museum free days and outdoor movies, there’s almost always something fun and free happening in Milwaukee. Check out the free section of Milwaukee365.com to see what’s on tap while you’re in town.  
 

 

 
Vegetarian and Vegan Dining in Milwaukee

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Monday, April 18, 2016

By Jennifer Posh
Content & Copywriting Specialist
VISIT Milwaukee
Couple eating at Bel Air Cantina
 
You may think of cheese and bratwurst when you think of Milwaukee, but there’s no shortage of delicious vegetarian and vegan food being served up in our restaurants! Milwaukeeans love their local food, and you’ll find fresh farm-to-table favorites all across the city. Most restaurants offer vegan and vegetarian entrées, but the variety available at these local spots make them favorites for veggie lovers and omnivores alike!
  • Colour Palate – Enjoy specialty salads and wraps or build your own at this café conveniently located right downtown! All dressings are vegetarian, with several vegan options.
  • Bel Air Cantina – The city’s home for Mexican food with a twist offers several creative vegetarian and vegan tacos incorporating soy chorizo, grilled cauliflower and more.
  • Fuel Café – Fuel up in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood with vegetarian and vegan sandwiches, paninis, burritos and more, including their famous homemade vegan chili on the weekends.
  • Outpost Natural Foods Co-Op – Get your shopping done at this local co-op or just stop at one of their in-store cafes for delicious from-scratch, organic vegetarian and vegan meals.
  • Comet Café – This popular local diner focuses on from-scratch comfort food. There are lots of vegan and vegetarian entrees on the menu, and you can sub field roast in on any of their sandwiches for just $1.
  • Casablanca – In addition to vegetarian options on the regular menu, this Middle Eastern restaurant is a must-visit spot for their vegetarian lunch buffet, available Monday-Saturday.
  • Ian’s Pizza – There’s always a featured vegetarian slice on the menu at Ian’s, and many of their famous specialty pies (including the best-selling Mac n’ Cheese pizza) are vegetarian and can be made vegan.
  • Wolf Peach – Experience Milwaukee’s small plates scene through the vegetarian and vegan-friendly menu at this farm-to-table restaurant. In addition to an off-site farm, much of the produce and garnish is grown at their on-site garden.
Where do you go for the best vegetarian and vegan food in Milwaukee? Let us know!

 

 
Retro Dining & Drinking in Milwaukee

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Friday, April 01, 2016

By Jennifer Posh
Content & Copywriting Specialist
VISIT Milwaukee

Cocktail at Bryant's Cocktail Lounge

Milwaukee is a city that honors its history, so it should come as no surprise that classic favorites like diners, supper clubs and cocktail lounges are still thriving alongside the innovative restaurants that make up the city's new-school dining scene. If you're looking to party like it's 1938 or just want a killer #ThrowbackThursday post, don't miss these retro-fab dining and drinking establishments while you're in town.

Founded in 1942, Miss Katie’s Diner is a 1950s throwback serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner along with a full cocktail menu. Start off your flashback day with their famous corned beef hash for breakfast.

From the relish tray to frosty ice cream drinks, the supper club is a Wisconsin institution that locals have loved since the 1930s. Get a taste of the classic supper club experience at Five O’Clock Steakhouse, serving up supper club staples like the relish tray, fresh salads prepared tableside and, of course, premium steaks since 1946. Travel & Leisure described this steakhouse as a “classic supper club setting with a Mad Men vibe.” Or try Joey Gerard’s, a new restaurant with nostalgic feel. This Hollywood-style supper club brings traditional favorites to modern families, including an impressive menu of ice cream drinks.

If cocktails sound more tempting, don’t miss Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge, a local gem open since 1938. A semifinalist for the James Beard Awards’ “Best Bar Program” (2013), Bryant’s repertoire includes over 450 specialty and classic cocktails, but you won’t see any menus in this stylish, intimate lounge. Instead, let one of the knowledgeable bartenders on staff use your preferences and tastes to guide you to the perfect drink. Up on the East Side, drink in vintage style at Vitucci’s. This cocktail lounge has been family-owned for 80 years!

Want to throw it back even farther? Learn more about Milwaukee's old school bar scene - including the oldest tavern in the city (built in 1850!).

 

 
How to Travel Solo in Milwaukee

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

By Jennifer Posh
Content & Copywriting Specialist
VISIT Milwaukee
 
No travel buddy? No problem! More and more travelers are discovering the fun and adventure of traveling solo. It can be intimidating to plan your first unaccompanied trip to a new city, but once you catch the bug it can be hard to find a travel experience that matches the freedom and adventure of going solo! Here are a few tips for what to do alone in Milwaukee.
 
Museums
Museums are the perfect spot to visit as a party of one. How many times have you been entranced by an exhibit or piece of artwork only to be dragged away by an impatient friend (or been the one trying to keep a pokey buddy on the move)? No thanks! When it’s just you, you can enjoy at your own pace. The Milwaukee Art Museum recently completed a full renovation of their galleries and nearly doubled the number of works on view (and added a coffee shop and wine bar – the perfect spot for a little solo chill time!). At the Milwaukee Public Museum, local favorite exhibit “The Streets of Old Milwaukee” is newly updated for a more immersive look into Milwaukee’s past; pop your headphones on and check out the Streets of Old Milwaukee app for ever-changing stories from turn-of-the-century Milwaukeeans.
 
Outdoors
Communing with nature is the perfect one-on-one activity: just you and the great outdoors. And Milwaukee’s urban outdoors are pretty darn great – with Lake Michigan, three rivers, more than 150 state and county parks and more than 130 miles of bike trails, there’s an option for everyone. Rent a kayak to explore Milwaukee’s waterways, hop on a bike (if you didn’t bring one, check out Bublr Bikes, the city’s bikeshare system) or just take a stroll. Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead (of Central Park fame), Lake Park is a local favorite spot for nature lovers and photographers thanks to waterfalls, stunning stone bridges and historic Northpoint Lighthouse. 
 
Dining
Eating out is often the most intimidating part of a solo trip, but it doesn’t have to be! If you’re shy about being alone at a sit-down restaurant, cafes and counter service restaurants are great options. Colectivo Coffee has been handmade in Milwaukee since 1993, and no one will look twice if you’re sitting along with a book or laptop at one of their thirteen local cafes enjoying a cup of coffee, soup, sandwiches or baked goods locally baked at their Troubadour Bakery in Bay View. During the summer, sidle up to a food truck for a delicious meal on the go to be enjoyed in any local park (tip: check Twitter to find out local truck schedules…they tend to travel in packs!). Or get a little braver: many popular local restaurants serve a full menu at the bar (and at some, that’s the only place to get a seat without a reservation!), so belly up for great farm-to-table eats at places like Braise and Wolf Peach, or retro-style counters at Comet Café and Miss Katie’s Diner.
 
Nightlife
If you’re the artsy type, use your solo status to your advantage to pick up some last-minute show tickets; pairs and groups are out of luck when it comes to snagging that one awesome seat that’s left! Milwaukee’s arts and theater scene boasts a Grammy-winning opera company, a world-class symphony, a nationally-acclaimed ballet company and an array of professional dance and theater companies performing at venues all across the metro area. Or if you’re more interested in trying some of Milwaukee’s local libations, a craft cocktail bar is the perfect place for a solo traveler. Like-minded patrons and knowledgeable bartenders make great company. Try Distil, Milwaukee’s House of Bourbon, for carefully crafted cocktails and an impressive spirits list. Or visit the tasting room of Great Lakes Distillery and Central Standard Craft Distillery, where you’ll sip on cocktails made with liquors distilled on-site.
 
What's your favorite solo hangout in Milwaukee?

 

 
A Beginner’s Guide to Cheese Curds

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Monday, February 22, 2016

By Jennifer Posh
Content & Copywriting Specialist
VISIT Milwaukee
 
If you’ve never been to Milwaukee, you may not know what to expect when you see “cheese curds” on the menu at the local watering hole. If you don’t know, you don’t know what you’re missing – and that simply will not do. This quick crash course in the quintessential Milwaukee bar food will have you confidently ordering a basket of curds next time you find yourself in Milwaukee craving something cheesy, gooey, salty and oh-so delicious.
 
What is a cheese curd anyway?
A cheese curd is a small, fresh, springy piece of cheese. During the cheese-making process, the curds are separate from the whey – these bits of cheese can be pressed into a nice block of cheddar or eaten as-is. Cheese curds are mild and slightly salty, and you can tell they’re fresh when they squeak between your teeth!
 
They actually squeak?
Sure do!
 
Okay…so I’m supposed to eat them raw?
Not necessarily! A squeaky cheese curd is a thing of beauty, but we all know there’s one surefire way to make anything better: deep fry it! Battered and fried cheese curds are a staple of bars, festivals, fairs and pretty much everywhere else in Milwaukee. They’re popularly dipped in ranch, marinara, ketchup…the possibilities are endless!
 
Sounds great! Where can I get a basket of these?
Where can’t you get cheese curds in Milwaukee is probably a better question! (Pro tip: museums generally don't have any.) You’ll find curds on the appetizer menu at many local bars and restaurants, but here are a few recommendations for great places to try this local classic:
  • Clock Shadow Creamery: Get it straight from the source for the ultimate in squeaky cheese. If you want to take a tour, try to come on Wednesday or Friday morning…that’s when they make the curds!
  • Wisconsin Cheese Mart: Order some fried curds for here at the on-site Uber Tap Room, then pick up a few packages to take home with you.
  • Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub: These traditional fried curds (pictured above) are a great introduction to what drives locals crazy for curds.
  • Lakefront Brewery: Served in the brewery's German-style beer hall, these curds are dipped in a beer batter from Lakefront’s own Eastside Dark, a Bavarian dark lager.
  • Dream Dance Steak: Try this upscale take on the classic curd with “cheese curd fritters” topped with tomato jam.
  • The Iron Horse Hotel: Unique tempura-battered curds are on the menu at this boutique hotel's on-site restaurants, Smyth and Branded.
Help us out, locals -- who serves up your favorite cheese curds?
 

 

 
How to make a Milwaukee Bloody Mary

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Monday, January 25, 2016

By Jennifer Posh
Content & Copywriting Specialist
VISIT Milwaukee
Over the top Bloody Mary from Sobelman's Pub & Grill
 
The Bloody Mary is no joke in Milwaukee. A limp stick of celery as a garnish? Not here. This iconic brunch beverage is turned up to eleven at Milwaukee eateries, topped with everything from mini-burgers to bacon, lobster claws to sushi rolls and everything in between. 
 
Sobelman’s Pub and Grill is famous for their over-the-top Bloody Marys (including the Chicken Fried Bloody Beast pictured above)…learn how to make a classic Sobelman’s Bloody in this video:
 
 
Don’t stop your exploration of Milwaukee’s over-the-top Blood Mary scene here! You can take a walking tour of the Third Ward’s best Bloodys with Milwaukee Food Tours, or check out some of the inventive Bloody Marys at these brunch spots on your own – don’t forget to order a “beer back,” a miniature beer to sip alongside your Bloody.
 
  • Asian ingredients like soy sauce and sake flavor the drinks at Screaming Tuna  – some even come topped with a sushi roll.
  • Home of a famous lobster dinner special, you can still get a lobster claw poking out of your Bloody when you brunch at St. Paul Fish Company in the Milwaukee Public Market.
  • At AJ Bomber’s, your Bloody Mary is basically a burger in a glass, with mustard and “Bomber” sauce in the mix and muenster cheese wrapped in a thin burger patty (and some bacon) to top it off.
  • Try County Clare for some Irish flair – the garnish on this drink includes a house-pickled red potato!
  • Looking for bold flavor? Smyth at the Iron Horse Hotel makes a powerful Bloody featuring horseradish, steak sauce and Guinness.
  • The Lowlands Group is famous for inventive Bloody Marys; you’ll find a variety of exclusive options on the menu at each of their five European-inspired Grand Cafes.
  • Smoke Shack’s signature Bloody Jack is made with Jack Daniels instead of vodka and spiced with barbeque sauce.
  • At the Wicked Hop, your drink comes crowned with a distinctive wreath of mozzarella whips.
The list goes on and on…who serves your favorite Milwaukee Bloody Mary?

 

 
How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

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Happy New Year! With the year properly underway, now’s the time to take stock: how well are you doing on your resolutions? It’s easy to make a vacation an excuse to indulge in things you wouldn’t at home (and we totally support that!), but you don’t have to forget about your resolutions while you’re traveling. Whatever pledge you made to yourself as 2016 dawned, we rounded up a few ways to help you stick to the most common options while in Milwaukee.
 
Get Active
There’s no reason to skip an outdoor adventure just because of a little chill in the air! Milwaukee was named one of USA Today’s top destinations for urban cross-country skiing, and our award-winning county parks are great for running, walking and biking all year round (I’d maybe leave the rollerblades at home until the ice melts, though.) Plus, Bublr Bikes, Milwaukee’s bike share system, is staying open all through the winter. With a network of more than 20 stations throughout downtown, why not hop on a bike next time you need to get from point A to point B? If outdoors in the winter really isn’t your style, burn some calories inside with a visit to CMP Tactical Lazer Tag, where a multistory cityscape arena takes you inside the heart-pounding action of your favorite video games, or family-friendly Bounce Milwaukee, home to laser tag, inflatable obstacle courses and a rock climbing wall – all open to both kids and adults!
 
Eat Healthier
Sure, Milwaukee may be known for some of our…more indulgent dining options, but there are plenty of great spots that won’t break your resolve. Located right downtown, Colour Palate lets you build your own custom salad or wrap, or pick from menu options like a classic Caesar, quinoa & corn or the Bombay chop. With four locations throughout the area, Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative is a great place for a healthy meal wherever you are. A full-service grocery store specializing in local, organic and natural foods, Outpost also has an in-store café with made-to-order juices and smoothies and an organic soup and salad bar. The Milwaukee Public Market is a must-visit spot; there’s a wealth of delicious vendors inside, but health nuts will make a beeline for the fresh juices, smoothies, salads and sandwiches at The Green Kitchen.
 
Learn Something New
You promised yourself you’d pick up some fresh knowledge in the new year – commendable! A brewery tour is classic Milwaukee fun that’s educational too; check out the high-speed production lines of an industry giant on the free tour at MillerCoors, or get a taste (literally) of craft brews at local microbreweries like Lakefront Brewery, Milwaukee Brewing Company and Sprecher Brewing Company. For a more hands-on approach, why not try a cooking class? Head into the kitchen with Chef Michael Feker at his culinary studio, get some training at Braise Culinary School or stop by Superior Equipment & Supply for classes for all ages.
 
Travel More
Hey, this one is a no-brainer: come to Milwaukee! We’ve been named one of the hotspots to visit in 2016 in The Boston Globe, so what are you waiting for? Check out our itineraries for tons of vacation inspiration for foodies, families, beer connoisseurs, couples and more to jumpstart your planning. See you in 2016!
 

 

 
Weekend Getaways: Milwaukee for Foodies

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Milwaukee for Beer Lovers
Photo Credit: Matt Haas

Expedia and VISIT Milwaukee created a list for food lovers as the final piece in our three-part series.

At Expedia.com, we partnered with VISIT Milwaukee to showcase some of the best places in town for beer lovers and those traveling with families, but what about visitors on a mission to treat their taste buds? Some of the best Milwaukee attractions are those that will have you asking for a second helping, so we rounded up several of our favorite eateries for you to chew on. From avant-garde recipes to seven-course delicacies, we’ve planned out all your meals for your weekend getaway in MKE. When you’re traveling to a place like Milwaukee, where the state’s nickname mentions cheese, you’d better arrive with an appetite.

Milwaukee for Beer Lovers
Photo Credit: Matt Haas

Sit-down Spots

At Wolf Peach, it’s not considered rude to start nibbling on your dish before everyone’s meals are served. This alternative restaurant is committed to a “como viene” or “as it comes” approach, which means the wait staff brings out each dish as soon as it’s cooked to ensure the ultimate freshness. The menu includes a variety of innovative items, many of which are picked straight from its urban garden. Try the slow-poached egg wood-fired pizza, or sample the Buddha baby mustard mix.

While you’re in town, get a taste of what Sanford Restaurant calls “modern ethnic” cuisine, a contemporary twist on traditional dishes. Every Monday through Friday, the sous chef conceptualizes the Four-Course Exploration Menu, and the chef whips up the Seven-Course Surprise Tasting Menu. Prefer to play outside the boundaries? Pick your own dishes off the daily menu—with fennel-dusted beef tenderloin and lamb consommé with shrimp flan, any choice is a good one.

Milwaukee for Beer Lovers

Meals and Wheels

The struggle of deciding between sushi and burritos is over thanks to the Sushi Go food truck. Enter this truck’s specialty: a massive sushi roll, wrapped in a nori, like a traditional burrito. The TunaGeddon is packed with raw escolar and yellowtail tuna, while The Instigator, loaded with marinated flank, is perfect for those who prefer turf over surf. Swing by Schlitz Park on Tuesdays or Central Standard Craft Distillery on Fridays for a Mexican twist on your Japanese favorites.

Also, chase down Yellowbellies when it rolls through town. Famous for its rotisserie chicken sandwiches, this food truck knows just what you’re craving. From the Mother Clucker, served with a blue cheese spread and bacon, to the Hail Hail with Caesar dressing and crumbled croutons, these flatbread sandwiches take lunch to a whole new level.

Some food trucks operate on a seasonal schedule, so check with the individual food truck’s event calendar to ensure they’re serving during your visit.

Milwaukee for Beer Lovers
Photo Credit: VISIT Milwaukee

Lodging Fare

When it comes to deciding where to stay, a comfortable bed shouldn’t be your only criteria. Choose a place like the Iron Horse Hotel, where you’ll be well rested and well fed. The hotel’s on-site restaurant, Smyth, serves exquisite and sophisticated dishes, including duck pate, charcuterie boards and rabbit meatballs.

For those who prefer some variety, consider making reservations at The Pfister Hotel, which boasts a number of dining options. However, you don’t have to stay at the hotel to enjoy the restaurants, such as Mason Street Grill, which uses a wood-burning oven and grill to create its flavorful signature dishes. Dive into the shishito flatbread or savor the bone-in filet mignon. Craving something lighter? Stop in the Café at the Pfister for Wisconsin ham and cheese or a grilled salmon salad.   

Whether you’re a grazer or a devourer, Milwaukee has an eatery for you. Satisfy your appetite by noshing and nibbling your way through the city’s foodie scene on your next trip to the Cheese State.

Written by Chloe Mulliner

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